Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Who Cares?

Written by 

Becky AkersI’ve stayed home lately, and no doubt you’re leery of traveling too, given that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) still limps along without a director. This “important homeland security post will continue to remain vacant for some time” because “Washington is playing politics with airport security” — i.e., Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) opposed Barack Obama’s nominee to oversee the agency because said hack planned to forcibly unionize screeners. (Erroll Southers has since stepped aside thanks to unrelated questions about his character — or lack thereof.)

Pretty scary, huh? The TSA does such a fine job keeping guys with bombs in their shoes and underwear off planes, not to mention its world-class groping of grandmothers, that we flirt with disaster leaving it leaderless.

But don’t comfort yourself with some cookies and milk. Salmonella could fell you, given that the Agriculture Department is also shy a bureaucrat or two: there’s no undersecretary for food safety. And those heroin dealers who increasingly waylay your kids, forcing their wares into Junior’s veins? They wax bold because the Drug Enforcement Administration lacks a top cop.

The list of missing leeches continues: “One year into Obama’s term,” an “opinion contributor” for Politico solemnly informs us, “about 200 of the roughly 500 top Senate-confirmed administration positions are still unfilled…In such volatile times, with countless national security threats, serious economic woes and the increased need for government services, incoming presidents must be immediately ready to govern.” Politico bills itself as “the modern voice of Washington, reaching the most influential political professionals running the nation’s capital,” so its delusion that government in general and bureaucrats in particular matter is not only nauseating but predictable.

But daily newspapers publish the same sort of pap. Some don’t even exile it to the editorial pages. So-called conservative commentators also capitalize on these vacancies to excoriate Obama’s administration, as if a shortage of sponges soaking up our taxes were a bad thing. And yet, for all the caterwauling and hand-wringing over empty posts, our lives as serfs continue without noticeable difference. Ask passengers languishing at any checkpoint in any airport if their wait is longer or screeners more hostile since January 2009, when the TSA’s former chief fled DC with the rest of Bush’s scalawags, and some will no doubt ask, “Bush’s scalawags fled?”

Government is completely unnecessary and wholly irrelevant. The proof lies in the performance of this song-and-dance every quadrennial or two. As Politico confesses, “By the end of his first year, [President George W.] Bush also had some 200 open positions requiring Senate approval. President Bill Clinton faced the same dilemma.” Yet no one notices but Leviathan’s editorial cheerleaders and bureaucrats. Those 200 pencil-pushers, and no doubt the remaining 300 “top Senate-confirmed administration positions,” are totally, laughably superfluous. 

Imagine a private company with an entire layer of needless managers. Sure, slackers fester everywhere; the larger the business, the likelier it is that some employees don’t pull their weight. But if 200 positions for middle managers went begging for even a week without real, measurable consequence (whining from the corporate media doesn’t count), executives would forget about filling them — and if they didn’t, shareholders would demand to know why.

In private companies, every worker counts every day. If a cashier at a supermarket calls in sick, the manager scrambles to replace her at the register. He prepares weeks in advance for his employees’ vacations — and his own.

I called the plumber last week about a leaky pipe. If his phone rang and rang because the receptionist’s position had gone begging for a year, he’d have lost my business. In fact, he’d no longer be in business after twelve months of unanswered calls. Ditto had the receptionist answered to tell me, “Gee, I’m sorry, but we’ve had no plumber for a year now. Let me take your name and number, and I’ll call you once we get around to hiring one.” Only in government is the “work” such a charade and the “workers” so needless that 40 percent of those at a given level can go missing for a year without any impact. 

Meanwhile, consider the commentary on the bureaucratic character. How immoral must these people be to lust after a sinecure? What sort of worm accepts a position knowing that things dragged along in their usual ineptitude, and could continue to do so, just fine without him? How do these freeloaders live with themselves, especially on our dime?

After last month’s Underwear Bomber proved how nonsensical the TSA is, “Democrat Chad McGowan, who is running for DeMint's seat, called on the senator to stop playing ‘politics’ by blocking the nomination [for the TSA’s chief bureaucrat]. ‘This is not the time to have nobody in charge of America's air security,’ McGowan said. ‘Terrorists don't care if we're Republicans or Democrats; they only care that we're Americans…’”

I predict victory for Chad. He’s as clueless as DeMint, editorialists, and the rest of the DC dummies.